25 Quick Tasks to Improve Your Blog TODAY

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This post is a part of a 3 post series about improving your blog:
25 quick tasks to improve your blog TODAY
33 actionable steps for blog improvement in ONE WEEK
41 tips to significantly improve a blog THIS MONTH
Or just download all 3 posts in PDF form at
99 tasks for blog improvement.

improve your blog todayBelieve it or not, there are things you can do in matter of several hours to make your blog much better.

However, we get distracted and forget what was that little thing we were planning to do, that will bring new visitors to our blogs.

Here is a list that will remind you of all the important things you can do today, to make your blog and blogging better immediately.

Basics

#1 Register for Gravatar! Do it now! It is very annoying to see the mystery man on your blog especially if it is a person that comments all the time. Choose an image that will be easy to remember.

#2-4 Register accounts on Livefyre, Disqus and Intense Debate. Use the same image as the one on Gravatar.

Don’t be one of the whining bloggers who “don’t comment on blogs with these systems out of principles”. Just do it and get it over with.

#5-8 I would be surprised if you are blogging and haven’t done this yet, but in case you haven’t, create accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linked In.

Planning

#9 Plan how you want to build “the brand of you and your blog”.

Just jot down a few words that describe you and the vision you have for your blog, like: “WordPress plugins know-it-all” or “Twitter sweetheart” and always work towards that goal.

General

#10 If you have a free blog, buy a domain name and hosting plan and move your blog to it today.

You don’t have money for that now? At least back up your whole blog, because if your free host decides to remove your blog today, would you want to lose all of your writing?

Social media

#11 Add links to your social profiles in your sidebar. Choose a set of icons, instead of making each icon have their own story.

#12 Add social proof to your sidebar.

I have both, the icons with links in the header and the social proof in the sidebar widget. If your numbers are pretty low, just use the links to profiles for now.

#13 Add social sharing and voting buttons to your blog. You can use plugins or add code to your blog.

First you need to decide which buttons will you use. Then choose a plugin (Digg Digg, Sharebar, Sexy Bookmarks) or add the social buttons code yourself.

#14 Start tweeting a few times a day. Share a post of yours few times a day (so all time zones see it).

If you are already active on Twitter, start sharing posts by other bloggers. Don’t forget to attach their handle (@ mention them) so they see when you tweet their post.

Usability

#15 Add the About me page to your blog. For best results (paraphrasing tip by Derek from SocialTriggers.com) this is how your About me page should look:

  • what will your blog do for the visitors
  • opt in form
  • what qualifies you to run the blog and help people
  • opt in form
  • something about you
  • opt in form

#16 Add the Contact page to your blog.

#17 Add the Most popular widget to sidebar to promote your best posts. Make sure they have at least 20 comments so they look somewhat popular. Or choose not to display comments until they are in the 50 and up range.

Search Engine Optimization

#18 Start doing that keyword research finally. Go to Google Adwords Keyword tool, if you don’t have any of the paid tools and do keyword research for the next post.

You don’t have to find the most profitable keyword in the world, but at least find one that looks interesting and has good numbers. Focus your whole next post around it.

#19 Add Google XML Sitemap plugin and submit your sitemap to Google Webmasters Tool.

Writing

#20 Start using 750words.com. It is a simple site where your goal is to write 750 words every day. You can win points and badges for that and your writing is private so it is a good motivator for writing, if you need one.

Networking and comments

#21 Add a Comment here invitation in a text widget to the sidebar. It is a trick I saw from Tristan H. and used it for months on my blog to attract more commenters. Although I don’t have the widget any more, I still try to return comments and RTs.

You can post something like this (of course, install these plugins if you post the same message):

  • You should comment on my blog because I will reply to every comment.
  • I will also come to your blog and leave a comment.
  • I have ComLuv and KeywordLuv plugins installed.
  • I have Top Commentators widget installed.

#22 Add GASP to your blog to prevent all bot comments.

#23 Visit 10 of your favorite blogs and leave a comment on them.

#24 Set up Google alerts to track new posts about topics that interest you and see what your competition is up to. If you are on Google+, you can use Google+ Sparks with similar strategy and results.

Making money

#25 While visiting those 10 favorite blogs (#23), write down how are they monetizing their blogging. (You will use this later for monetization plan).

Bullseye

The tips coming in next two posts are going to be more detailed and the stuff you will work on takes more time than this. Some of the tasks are related to these, so you might want to sit down and get this over with :)

I am estimating that you don’t need more than 3 hours to complete all 25 tasks. As a matter of fact you will probably need less than that. 

Do these 25 things today and you will have a better blog. Don’t postpone it because I am bringing more tips during the week and I want you to catch up!

Please share the post!  Also, tell me how many of these you haven’t done before? How many steps will it take you to transform this to-do list into a to-done list.

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Comments

  1. Always keep the same Gravatar if you can because this is how the world recognize you. This is a must is you want constant traffic when leaving comments.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Brankica says:

      Could not agree more. I love that green thing you have on yours, makes me recognize you any time anywhere :)

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I have installed the GASP & also the Simple TB Validation plugins. The Simple TV Validation was recommend, but a recommendation for deleting Bad Behavior was given when I studied the GASP plugin information. I will be checking back for more info.

    I am so grateful to you and other ‘techie’ bloggers as you help we who are not as ‘techie’ to blog more successfully. Sally

    • Brankica says:

      Yup, the validation plugin is also a great addition!

    • I’m not sure about GASP function while there’re still many spam trackbacks and comment spam in my blog, I think all of them are created by auto-bot, not human.

      • Brankica says:

        GASP doesn’t handle trackbacks and human spammers. But it does block all the bots. I get some spam still, but those are all people. As far as I know the configuration of the plugin is that way that a bot can’t click the box, but the developer would know more.

        Don’t forget that there are many comments that look like they have been posted by bots but they are actually copy/paste comments left by real human hired to leave comments on blogs.

  3. There’s a few I haven’t heard and will check them out. Thx for posting this.

    Tom

  4. Great tips Brankica. I’ve been meaning to write a post like this myself. I am still amazed by the number of people who post comments without a Gravatar. As for free blogs, who are they promoting? I could just go on and on agreeing with you on each of your suggestions. But I won’t! :)

    • Brankica says:

      Lol, I know how you feel, happens to me all the time, and I wanna say thanks but kinda block cause I just agree on everything.

      I also can’t believe how many people are still commenting without Gravatar. I don’t mean those one time commenters, but bloggers with months and months of commenting under their feet.

  5. Brankica, great post — and a thank you for the ‘clicky’ last week, and this week I’ll say thanks in advance for 750.com — been visiting your blog a while now, and there is always something valuable. Thanking you. Dawn Have a Great Day!

    • Brankica says:

      Thanks Dawn, and thanks for commenting (should I say finally, lol).

      I love Clicky and 750 is my new obsession. I still haven’t done my homework for today, will have to get on it so I don’t end up on the wall of shame :)

  6. Kelly Paull says:

    Great, meaty post! I’ve got some work to do, but thanks to this post, my blog is going to ROCK! Thanks!

  7. Bran, although I’m currently doing all these things, I appreciate the heck out of articles like this one because I soooooooo wish I had something like this when I started this journey 20 months ago. This is really, really good stuff—- a must read for newbies. :-)

    Marcus

    • Brankica says:

      Thanks, Lion! Have you seen the link I sent you yesterday on Twitter?

  8. Great tips – I’ve been trying to write an article or two a day, so that 750words site might be a nice one for me. I find that the more I write, the more I want to write and the productivity just flows from there. :)

    • Brankica says:

      That is what I am hoping for and the reason I started the month challenge over there. Have to write 750 words every day in August or else they will put my name on wall of shame, lol.

      I am lately trying to increase productivity cause I am terrible at organizing time + ADHD so I am hoping this will create a good habit for me.

  9. Hey Brankica,

    Excellent tips, as always. I’m already doing most of them. I had trouble with the popular posts widget, so I just made a list of my best posts and put it in the text widget. Can you tell me more about the Google XML sitemap plugin? I’ve heard about it, but I’m not sure what it actually does (or if I need any technical knowledge to set it up).

    Thanks!

    • Brankica says:

      Hey Marianne, sitemap is basically a list of all your posts on the blog. You can submit it to Google Webmaster tools and it is supposed to help Google find all your pages instead of just relying on Google crawling your blog, which can take a while and it still might not find all pages.

      This plugin will automatically create one for you and update it when you update your blog. There is not much work in setting it up, I actually believe all the defaults are good to go!

  10. Glad I stopped by to read this post.
    I am new and I just downloaded this article so that I could review and rework the site I have right now.
    thanks for thinking about the little guys like me and helping out with stuff that I would not have thought of.
    Doing some of these things, but not all. So thanks
    Billy

  11. Hey Brankica!

    I was happy to read the list and find that I’m doing most of these things now (thanks to bloggers like you)! I didn’t know about 750 and the Google XML Sitemap tool. I better do my homework and check them out before you put up the next post! I will definitely be sharing this–it would be great for newbies:)

    PS: Good luck with 750 this month. Hope you don’t end up on the wall of shame;)

  12. Hey Brankica: It’s been a while since I’ve visited your blog! There are many blogs that I fell off with during my phase of inconsistencyin my work ethics. Thanks to Kiesha’s link over at WeBlogBetter I am back around the scenes, and you will see me back around much more frequently.

    Awesome tips to improve your blog. There are many on here that I have already done, but there are also many that I haven’t been aware of. I have been meaning to re-do my about page. I like the layout you said for the about page. It makes a lot of sense.

    Also, I need to work harder on my social media efforts and helping others get there word out to what followers I have.

    Thanks for the tips & keep working hard!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

    • Brankica says:

      Hey William, so nice to see you back, and I did actually notice you were MIA!

      Just in case you want to learn a bit more about that About me page layout, go to SmartPassiveIncome.com and search for a post where there is an interview (bog audit actually) with Derek H. I can’t find it now to give you the link

  13. Thanks for the link to 750 Words! Never heard of that site. It seems like a great commitment. I used to have a DoFollow badge which sort of did what the comment here invitation is suggesting up there. I too used to have a welcome sort of thing which let people know they should commit and submit a post.

    I should do that again. But there’s only so much room, argh. I already am considering another re-design. After all, it’s been a whole 7 months since the last one. :) LOL

    Always great to get list posts from you! They are always awesome.

    • Brankica says:

      Hey Tia, you can use the 750 site without being in the risk of ending up on Wall of Shame, that is only in case you register for a challenge :)

      I learned a bit more about the site and there are two cool things I like about it. It sends me daily e-mail reminder to get over there and write, lol. Also, it can analyze your writing and tell you about your mood and stuff, not that I wanted to know about it :)

      I remember the last design you did, I thought I was on a wrong blog, it was so different. But I do like your design, although I can understand the desire to change stuff. I always keep changing stuff here, just not all together.

      Anyway, thanks for the nice words :)

  14. Brankica, This is a good list of tips for bloggers. I can think of a few more like analytics that can help you improve performance.

  15. Like some of the others have said Brankica I wish someone had given me this list when I started. Thanks for the tip about having at least 20 popular posts as I think I only have 15 listed.

    • Brankica says:

      More than welcome :) I really hope all this helps someone, that was the goal!

  16. First time I’ve ever heard of that GASP plugin, this is something I can see being useful on a couple of my sites. You really break everything down well Brankica, certainly worth reading, thanks!

    • Brankica says:

      Hey Darryl, you would not believe how much less spam a blog gets when the bots are blocked!

  17. Thank you for a fabulous checklist.
    As I am in the midst of trying to re-organize our Thai village blog your post was very timely and greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much for sharing

    • Brankica says:

      Amnuai, I am glad you found it helpful and hope it will make a difference!

  18. Wow… just when I thought I was going to have the afternoon off to read in the shade… I’m going to be busy sorting out my blog! There’s so much here and in such a ‘user friendly’mode. Even ‘Mrs Can’t do Tech stuff’ writing this, can do this.
    This is one of the most helpful ‘How To’ posts I’ve read, Brankica. Truly.
    I’ll Bookmark this and have RT’d.

    • Brankica says:

      Thanks so much Linda. Sorry for ruining your afternoon, I tend to do that to people, lol. I really do try to keep it simple cause although I figure out some things pretty quickly, I hate when someone thinks everything is a given and everyone would understand. So since I hate that happening to me, I don’t want to be accused of doing the same, lol.

  19. The lease is coming up on my gravatar, so I can either renew it or go self hosted. If I go self hosted I will have to use that old stiff picture I had before. I just looked and nobody has rented it so it’s still available.

    Next thing I will do is keyword research. Butt, ass & tits seem to be popular but it always draws a pretty sketchy crowd; good numbers though……….

    In all seriousness, self hosted and keyword research are my next big things to do. It’s scary I can even find my way to the office, huh?

    Have a great day ma’am.

  20. Great tips. Its motivating to read that all these tasks takes just a few hours but it’ll take me months if I ran a blog :) Its really amazing what all methods and techniques the bloggers implement to get the blog going. Of course the same goes for the website owners as well but I feel bloggers work more and its because bloggers work so hard readers like me stay well informed.

    • Brankica says:

      As a person that has sites as well, I can say that blog is 10 times if not more, harder to maintain. There is just so much less to do on a website once you set it up.

      I just hope to see you get a Gravatar, for the sole reason that you always leave cool comments and I would love to connect the face to words :)

  21. Hi Bran, I love actionable posts and this one is just one of those. I started the problogger’s 31 Days tasks and this post will serve as an additional checklist to help me build a better blog.

    Never heard of the 750words site but will check it out.

    Great post – you definitely put a lot of work into it. Thanks.

    • Brankica says:

      That book is pretty good but I feel that if you are in blogging for few months, it might not bring much new into the blog. It is awesome for beginners though. The reason for that is that most people have posted about all the tips from the book on their blogs and kinda took away from it :)

      I do scan through it often, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything!

  22. Ka-Boom! Dynamite post, Brankica!

    I haven’t checked out GASP yet so I’ll get right on it. Thanks.

    A little tip and trick for the way cool bloggers in your community regarding “Gravatars”:

    For those commenters who just don’t (or won’t) get around to grabbing a Gravatar, you can change the default avatar in your comments. The following plugin allows you to use “any graphic your want” for your less-than-savvy commenters (no offense intended). For whatever reason, some folks just refuse to take the short steps needed to secure a Gravatar.

    So here’s the next best option for blog owners:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-new-default-avatar/

    Write On!
    Melanie

    • Brankica says:

      There is a default image in WP anyway, I chose it to be a mystery man although those purple bacterias look pretty awesome too, lol

      • I know what you mean, Brankica, about the default images WP already provides. Some are kinda cool. But with the plugin I mentioned, you can do something really classy and have all the images the same — for example, you could choose your favicon or just a simple letter “B”, etc. When you have a second (ha-ha), head over to “Two Hour Blogger” and see what Martyn Chamberlain has set up for his “default” avatar.

        Hope it’s a lot cooler where you are — we’re baking like potatoes here in Southern California.

        Cheers,
        Melanie

  23. That’s “any graphic you want” … not “your”. Sheesh. I always hit that doggone submit button too quickly. :)

  24. Got sent here by Keisha from her Blogging contest post. These are really the essentials. 25 is the new 101!

  25. Great post! As a newbie I’m constantly looking for new tips and advice. Who knew there was so much to learn about the blogosphere! Thanks and I can’t wait for more. :)

  26. Hi Brankica,

    Wow, this is a great list of actionable items. I was happy to see that I scored about 90%, so I guess I’m headed in the right direction with my blog.

    Like you idea about setting up a Comment Invitation widget. I do all of the things you have on your invitation, but have not mentioned it all in one place like this. Cool idea.

    Thanks and can’t wait for your next installment!

    Bob

    • Brankica says:

      Bob, so glad you liked it. Having that widget at the beginning is what brought the first commenters to my blog and in big numbers. I still do it, although I removed the widget. I might put it back, you never know, lol.

      By the way, parts 2 and 3 are already posted (the links are in the note box at the top of the post). I also plan to post the downloadable file with all 3 posts in it, hopefully tomorrow. Thanks for the comment :)

  27. Bojan says:

    This post just exploded…

  28. Great tips Brankica…

    I’ve thought about writing a post about adding your gravatar lately because I have a few new friends that don’t have theirs up and I don’t know why I find it so annoying. Silly me, they are leaving me great comments and interacting but I like to at least check out the face of the person I’m having a conversation with. Just don’t know why that bugs me so much.

    The branding thing I had an issue with for the longest darn time. Long long long story but I have recently learned that my blog is just fine the way it is. When I first put it up I just threw up that tagline and people kept telling me it’s too generic, but obviously it’s working for me because I get lots of traffic, lots of conversations and lots of people interested in chatting with me about what I do. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right.

    Thanks girl, great tips… But, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.

    Adrienne

  29. Bran,

    Great tips. Fortunately I find I am following most of them. I haven’t checked out the 750 word a day site…. but I am well beyond that. ;)

    This is certainly a wonderful template for anyone trying to improve their blog… just like you promised in the title!!!

    -S

    • Brankica says:

      Well, don’t go and check cause I am on their wall of shame :)

      They have a monthly challenge, write 750 words every day for a month and I failed after 5 days :)

  30. Great list Brankica, I just put up a very similar tip on using Gravatar on my new comment policy today. I love this stuff.

  31. Hey Brankica, great post here! It’s always important to know how to have an effective blog and an attractive one at the same time. I love the tips that you’ve shared here. All of them are definitely critical! Love the stuff you’ve discussed here. Thanks for sharing this! Keep it up! :D

  32. Can I just say that this post is awesome. So many of the tips that you listed here are so simple but I forgot to do them. Thank you for reminding me!